Tracy Chapman sues Nicki Minaj over unauthorised sample
Written by Lindah Nduwumwami on October 24, 2018
Tracy Chapman is suing Nicki Minaj for copyright infringement. The singer has filed a lawsuit over Sorry, a Nas-featuring song that Minaj had hoped to feature on recent album Queen. Minaj had made repeated public attempts to obtain rights from Chapman for sampling 1988 hit Baby Can I Hold You without success.
Beats in the trap: Nicki Minaj’s Queen show is radio’s chaotic, addictive monster. Despite choosing not to include it on her album, the song was premiered on Funkmaster Flex’s Hot 97 radio show and is still available online. The suit claims the song “incorporates the lyrics and vocal melody of [Baby Can I Hold You], its most recognizable and memorable parts” and Chapman is seeking damages and an order to stop an official release. Minaj claimed she “had no clue” the song contained a sample and once she found out, sent out various tweets aimed at the singer. “Tracy Chapman, can you please hit me,” she tweeted in August. She also asked her fans in a poll if she should delay the release of Queen to wait for Chapman’s response. “Chapman, through her own agents and representatives, repeatedly denied … after-the-fact requests to use the composition,” reads the suit. A later, since deleted, tweet simply from Minaj said: “Sis said no.” In 2005, Chapman shared her reservations about being sampled. “I’m not really a fan of it, especially if people do it without permission. It can work sometimes but at other times it may not be in line with the music that somebody may have come to appreciate from the original. I guess I’m protective,” she said. Chapman’s last album was 2008’s Our Bright Future and during her career she won four Grammys, including best new artist and best rock song.